Nanoparticle Behaviour in Complex Media: Methods for Characterizing Physicochemical Properties, Evaluating Protein Corona Formation, and Implications for Biological Studies

  • Wye-Khay Fong
  • Thomas L. Moore
  • Sandor Balog
  • Dimitri Vanhecke
  • Laura Rodriguez-Lorenzo
  • Barbara Rothen-Rutishauser
  • Marco Lattuada
  • Alke Petri-FinkEmail author
Part of the NanoScience and Technology book series (NANO)


The transformation of nanoparticles (NPs) in physiological milieu is a dynamic phenomenon that is the subject of intense investigation. When introduced into the body, NPs can undergo a variety of changes, such as, protein adsorption, dissolution, agglomeration/aggregation, structural deformities and redox reactions. It is these changes that subsequently determine the uptake, bioavailability, translocation and fate of NPs, which ultimately determine their therapeutic efficiency, diagnostic efficacy or toxicity. This chapter will consider the colloidal interactions at the interface of NPs with the contents of biological milieu, the practical and theoretical considerations required to modify analytical and imaging techniques to detect and, if possible, quantify NPs in this complex environment, and the requirement for a highly interdisciplinary approach to understand the behaviour at the bio-nano interface.


Biological fluids Cell culture media Aggregation Colloidal chemistry Nanoparticle fate Dosimetry Light scattering Spectroscopy Separation methods Light microscopy Electron microscopy Synchrotron radiation Microfluidics 



Asymmetric flow field-flow fractionation


Atomic force microscopy


Analytical ultracentrifuge


Bovine serum albumin


Backscattered electrons


Circular dichroism


Cell culture media


Disc centrifuge analysis


Depolarized dynamic light scattering


Dynamic light scattering

DLS-zeta potential

Laser-Doppler velocimetry


Electron energy loss spectroscopy


Environmental scanning electron microscope


Extended X-ray absorption fine structure


Foetal bovine serum


Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy


Förster resonance energy transfer


Lock in thermography LM: light microscopy




Small-angle neutron scattering


Small-angle X-ray scattering


Secondary electrons


Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy


Static light scattering


Superparamagnetic iron nanoparticles


Synchrotron small angle X-ray scattering


Scanning transmission electron microscope


Scanning transmission X-ray microscopy


Taylor dispersion analysis


Transmission electron microscopy


Titanium dioxide


Tuneable resistive pulse sensing


Optical extinction spectroscopy in the UV-Visible range


X-ray absorption spectroscopy


X-ray absorption near edge structure


X-ray diffraction


X-ray microscopy


Zinc oxide



This work was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation through the National Center of Competence in Research Bio-Inspired Materials (WKF through the Research Program for Women in Science). The authors acknowledge financial support of the Swiss National Science Foundation (ML through grant number PP00P2_159258, BRR through grant number 310030_159847/1), the Adolphe Merkle Foundation, and the University of Fribourg. LRL acknowledges financial support from the Marie Curie COFUND Action (600375. NanoTRAINforGrowth).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wye-Khay Fong
    • 1
  • Thomas L. Moore
    • 1
  • Sandor Balog
    • 1
  • Dimitri Vanhecke
    • 1
  • Laura Rodriguez-Lorenzo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Barbara Rothen-Rutishauser
    • 1
  • Marco Lattuada
    • 2
  • Alke Petri-Fink
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.BioNanomaterials, Adolphe Merkle InstituteFribourgSwitzerland
  2. 2.International Iberian Nanotechnology LaboratoryWater Quality GroupBragaPortugal
  3. 3.Department of ChemistryUniversity of FribourgFribourgSwitzerland

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